MALVERN Town dropped their first points in the West Midlands Football League Premier Division when they lost 1-0 at home to Wellington.
Town had won their opening four games and went into the midweek game full of confidence, but the visitors just edged a hard-fought contest.
Malvern had previously stretched their unbeaten record with an excellent 4-1 victory at Smethwick Rangers.
Without six first-teamers at Smethwick due to injuries and holidays, Town had Joe Endacott booked early on for what appeared a good tackle.
Gurjit Singh shot just wide from Smethwick’s first attack but the visitors countered with James Lush firing just off target after a fine left wing run.
After 11 minutes, a low corner for Smethwick was hit just wide of the post by an unmarked Sanjeev Johal.
Malvern went on the attack and in the 14th minute Bryan Craven was tripped by the Smethwick keeper in the penalty area.
Aaron Richard’s soft spot-kick was pushed out by the keeper only for Craven to react first and score from a tight angle.
Malvern’s Dave Reynolds was yellow carded in the 29th minute for a two-footed tackle and Craven was just too high with an overhead volley soon after.
In the 37th minute, a Smethwick cross was headed against the bar and over by Ravi Sangha.
Malvern began to dominate and on 43 minutes a brilliant lob from 35 yards by Craven beat the keeper but hit the top of the bar.
The start of the second-half was greeted by torrential rain and hailstones.
After 46 minutes, Smethwick equalised from within the six-yard box after a series of poor clearances and mistimed tackles from the defence.
However, direct from the restart, Matt Turner made a fine run down the right and his low cross was converted at the near post by Craven.
Two minutes later, Malvern went 3-1 ahead when Craven completed his hat-trick with a brilliant turn and low left-foot shot from 20 yards.
The rain ceased after 10 minutes of the second-half and a 61st-minute chip over the defence by Reece King was converted at full stretch by Reynolds with a cushion volley to make it 4-1.
Turner and Kirk Layton were both booked for tackles during Smethwick counter-attacks.
In the 76th minute, a shot from Lush appeared to be blocked on the line by a Smethwick player’s hands but the referee waved play on.
King was booked in the 77th minute for a foul and Malvern keeper Niall Hacking then saved well with his feet following a Smethwick free-kick.
On 79 minutes, a lob from 35 yards by King beat the keeper but went just wide.
Malvern’s pace in attack still caused problems and only a miss-kick in front of an empty goal by substitute Jake Hollylee kept the score at 4-1.
For pictures from the Wellington game, see this week's Malvern Gazette.